September 22, 2011
I grew up convinced the world was ending. At any minute, on any given day, through mistake or deliberate intent, 22,000 nuclear warheads from five different countries would all be launched together, striking their targets half an hour later. None of us would know they were coming. There was no internet and no 24-hour news cycle. The powers that be would simply slam down their big red buttons and send us all to hell.
It's fashionable nowadays to ask, "What would you do if you knew you were dying?"
One country singer even wrote a song about it.
In Nena's song, a mistake destroys the world. In Tim McGraw's song, a man learns he has cancer. In 1982 we all believed we were dying. We lived knowing that each day was precious because each day could easily be our last. In 2010, it takes a cancer diagnosis.
I have lived my life waiting for the end of the world. I've preached it, studied it, and written about it. There is even a word to describe it: eschatology, the science of the end of the world.
We've come a long ways during my life. We've journeyed from "99 Red Balloons", to the fall of the Berlin Wall, to the rise of Al Qaeda and the fall of the Twin Towers. American forces are now embroiled in three different wars, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Hopefully two of the three are now winding down and the third one will soon come to a close as well. It is entirely possible that by year-end, these three wars will be over.
But, unfortunately, that could merely presage the opening of an even larger war. Turkey has become very provocative lately. If that situation spirals out of control, there is no telling how many nations it will eventually encompass.
This time, however, everything is different. Back in 1982, powerful armies stared each other down from opposite sides of the world. Since 2001, the enemy of freedom has a different face entirely. Everything about the wars of this past decade is revolting to someone like me. The state of this new, modern war is best summed up by a cartoon I found on Facebook today:
I don't know who created this image, but it perfectly communicates my vision of today's world. Our enemy talks big, but their battlefield conduct is cowardly, their targets are women and children, and their weapons are utterly distasteful to me. During the Cold War some people partied like there was no tomorrow because the possibility that tomorrow would never come was entirely realistic. The rest of us stood up, served in the military when it was unpopular, preached compromise to audiences that preferred to ignore the world entirely, and struggled to reconcile the needs of our families with the very real fear that in the blink of an eye we and our family would simply cease to exist.
In the War on Terror, on the other hand, brave men and women face a cowardly enemy that fights to bring about an idealized utopia that they themselves only half believe in. When I see reports about Hamas pouring rocket fire onto Israeli schoolyards from the politically mandated safe-zones of mosques, hospitals, and apartment complexes I find myself wishing someone would drop a five megaton neutron bomb on the Gaza strip and vaporize every man, woman and child living there. Sadly, that might be the only way Israeli families will ever have the freedom to raise their children without fear of unprovoked attack against civilian targets by cowards hiding behind the skirts of their wives and mothers.
Why destroy the Gaza instead of Israel? Because the Israelis are not hiding behind the skirts of their women and strapping bombs to their children's chests. It has nothing to do with history, religion, or racism. The simple fact of the matter is the tactics of terror disgust me. The Palestinian "freedom fighters" send teams of murderers into the houses of doctors and scholars, slitting the throats of honest businessmen along with their wives and children. When Israel responds with tanks and soldiers, the terrorists send their wives to stand in front of the tanks and strap bombs to the chests of the children before having them run up to Israeli military patrols begging for candy and coins. I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone could support such a sadistic, cowardly culture. I do not understand why Hamas and Hezobollah are called "freedom fighters" while Israeli and American soldiers are labeled "terrorists in their own right".
I think of Nena and her "99 Red Balloons". The world was not "simpler" in 1982. Our conflicts were just as violent, just as predatory, and just as dangerous as they are today. In many ways, the modern world is both simpler and safer than the world I grew up in. But for all it's simplicity and safety, it is far less honest. The Soviet Union did not talk brave while acting cowardly. They stood up for what they believed in as strongly as we stood up for freedom. The honesty in our conflict kept both armies at bay, kept the nuclear warheads from being used, and led directly to the signing of START I, the first real agreement to reduce the size our armies and the deadliness of our arsenals.
START I was signed in 1991, effectively ending the Cold War. Only ten years later cowards armed with box cutters and fake bombs hijacked airplanes filled with business people, tourists, and families returning home. They then crashed those planes into two civillian business towers and one military installation. A fourth plane crashed in a Pennsylvania pasture after the passengers challenged the cowards who had taken control of it.
I would never want a return to the days of the Cold War. Even so, there is no moral, ethical, or religious justification for the conduct of Palestinian "freedom fighters" and their supporters. Bombs planted in discotheques and rockets fired at suburban neighborhoods are not the actions of honest revolutionaries. These are the actions of psychotic criminals who do not even deserve to be called "human".